Due to more accurate mapping, the East Fork fire is now estimated to be 1156 acres. The fire remains approximately 4.5 miles north of the Sterling Highway and 3.5 miles east of the nearest residential area.
Yesterday firefighting efforts were focused on “cold trailing” the western perimeter. Cold trailing involves firefighters walking the edge of the fire looking for any smoke and feeling for hotspots in the area. Any detected areas of heat are extinguished completely; this helps to ensure the fire will not pop back up later in that area.
The fire continues to burn in a limited protection area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The Alaska Division of Forestry is assisting with firefighting efforts and coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the fire for ecological benefits in the refuge.
Yesterday’s winds were primarily from the north. Today’s winds are forecasted to start from the north and then push around to the southeast by this afternoon. Stronger gustier winds are expected this afternoon with the system that is pushing in and likely bringing more moderate weather for Tuesday.
There are 120 firefighters currently assigned to the fire, that includes 4 crews that came from around the state of Alaska to help. In addition to the ground personnel, 2 large water scooping CL-415 aircraft located at the Kenai airport are still assigned to the fire. There are additional tankers available in state, if needed. Three helicopters continue to assist with bucket drops as well as personnel shuttles and sling loads of supplies.
The public is asked to please steer clear of crews working in the area and be aware of the potential for aircraft using Skilak Lake to scoop water.
A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been put in place over the fire and pilots should check with the Federal Aviation Administration before flying in the area. More information on the TFR is available at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.
For more information, contact Alaska Division of Forestry public information officer Celeste Prescott at 907-244-9376. Information about the fire is also being posted on akfireinfo.com, KPBOEM.blogspot.com and inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5250/.